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Home > Cultured Pearls Guide > Real Pearls Versus Fake Pearls

Real Pearls Versus Fake Pearls

Real pearls are valuable and they display the natural beauty of pearls. Fake pearls are also called “faux”, “costume” or “imitation”. They can be made of glass, plastic, or fish-scale imitations. For example, "majorica pearls" are a form of fake pearls. There is nothing in them that rightly allow them to be called pearls. They are not naturals nor cultured.

Fake pearls are made to look like expensive Akoya or South Sea pearls, with a price range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars.

Here are some tips on how to distinguish real pearls from fakes:

1. Real pearls have fingerprint-like surface ridges when viewed under magnification. Fake pearls have bubbles or matte patterns on the surface when viewed under magnification.

2. Real pearls have body color enriched by an overtone color. (Some pearls have very strong overtones while some pearls have weak overtones). Fake pearls only have one body color. Their colors look flat and lack depth.

3. Real pearls reflect light beautifully and their luster looks very natural. The luster of fake pearls doesn't look natural. It looks like glass.

4. When viewing real pearl strands under light, you can see a slight difference between each pearl in terms of size, overtones and surface quality. Even top quality cultured pearls with perfect surface have tiny thin layers when looking at them closely.
For fake pearl strands, each pearl looks like the exact copy of another. Their surfaces look perfect.

5. Real pearls are cold when you touch them. You don't feel the coolness when touching fake pearls. They always have the same temperature as the room air.

6. When rubbing pearls across your teeth, real pearls feel gritty while fake pearls feel smooth.

7. Real pearls are heavy in weight. Fake pearls are light in weight.

8. Real pearls show smoothness around drilled holes. Fake pearls show roughness or bump around drilled holes, as if the pearls have been melted during drilling.


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